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help - i want to get into an IT career RRS feed

  • Question

  • so i'm 23 years old, currently unemployed, and i want to get into the IT field. 

    i have a couple questions to start:

    1. what certifications should i get 
    2. how much do the certifications cost
    3. what kind of job can i expect to get with a MC, where can i expect to get a job, and how much can i expect to get paid.

    i know these are very broad questions, but any help getting me started on the right path would be very much appreciated.

    thanks.
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 3:50 AM

Answers

  • Before you even think about certifications, you need to get some experience. Certifications are designed for individuals that have proficiency in the tested objectives. The path you chose in the I.T. field will determine what certification(s) you should aim for. The set cost for obtaining a Microsoft certification is $125. This is the cost to sit the exam. This does not include any and all study material you might need to help prepare for an exam. Salaries largely depend on a few factors. One being how much experience you have. Another factor is what you specialize in. And yet another is your current regional location. If I were you, I would do some research on what path in the I.T. field you would like to pursue and create some specific questions pertaining to that area.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 5:34 AM
  • I am in agreement with Michael that Certification is going to be second to experience.  What has lead you to the decision to work in IT?  Do you have any experience in supporting computers at all?

    I don't think the Microsoft Certs would be the best start for someone just breaking in.  I would look to the Comptia A+ cert to get a basic support background.  From there you should be able to get a low level support position where you can start to gain the experience you will need to tackle harder certs.  It also provides you with work in the IT field so when you do achieve those certs you have experience to back them up and possibly have more experienced techs to mentor you.

    As for where to find these positions it really depends on where you live.  When I started my career I was in Chicago so it was easy to find work, when I moved to Lake Havasu, AZ positions in the field were scarce because there were no mid or large size businesses.  If you are in a larger area and after you get some basic skills, you can use various job sites, but also take a look at Craigslist if you have local listing.  There are many people looking for help that couldnt afford a more experienced tech, but would give you the ability to look at different configurations and grow your experience.  Dont expect to make a fortune up front, it will be a building experience but if you keep at it and are diligent in keeping up your skills you will have upward growth.

    Good luck to you!

    Dave
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:48 PM
    Answerer
  • Paper Thin Panda said:

    so i'm 23 years old, currently unemployed, and i want to get into the IT field. 

    i have a couple questions to start:

    1. what certifications should i get 
    2. how much do the certifications cost
    3. what kind of job can i expect to get with a MC, where can i expect to get a job, and how much can i expect to get paid.

    i know these are very broad questions, but any help getting me started on the right path would be very much appreciated.

    thanks.



    You need to spend some additional time with XP and Vista, really take the ahnds on approach to working with features that perhaps you have nto explored before.  One of the easiest places to get started in IT is to begin working on the desktop support desk at a company.

    There is one primary credential to look at right now in the Vista space and that is the MCITP:Enterprise Support Technician.  Or, if you still want to get certified on Windows XP, you can go after the MCDST.  In either case, these credentials focus on your knowledge of the key desktop features which are important to any given company.  Security features, common configuration options, technologies used to deply the OS, automated installations, etc.  These are features that as a home user you will not already have experience with in the operating system.

    So once you have a study text, start using some fo these features on a computer.  Give yourself practice with them to build up to being certified.

    Thereafter, realize that your certification is not going to be a silver bullet here.  Today's companies are looking for a combination of experience AND certification.  To bridge the experience gap, dont be afraid to go after short-term and contract work.  Yes, the job security and benefits usually suck but after you have a few contract positions under your belt, you then have the basis of experience to go further in the hiring process at a fir where your job may be more stable.
    - Wayne S. Anderson MCITP, MCSE, MCT http://blog.avanadeadvisor.com/blogs/waynea
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:50 PM

All replies

  • Before you even think about certifications, you need to get some experience. Certifications are designed for individuals that have proficiency in the tested objectives. The path you chose in the I.T. field will determine what certification(s) you should aim for. The set cost for obtaining a Microsoft certification is $125. This is the cost to sit the exam. This does not include any and all study material you might need to help prepare for an exam. Salaries largely depend on a few factors. One being how much experience you have. Another factor is what you specialize in. And yet another is your current regional location. If I were you, I would do some research on what path in the I.T. field you would like to pursue and create some specific questions pertaining to that area.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 5:34 AM
  • I am in agreement with Michael that Certification is going to be second to experience.  What has lead you to the decision to work in IT?  Do you have any experience in supporting computers at all?

    I don't think the Microsoft Certs would be the best start for someone just breaking in.  I would look to the Comptia A+ cert to get a basic support background.  From there you should be able to get a low level support position where you can start to gain the experience you will need to tackle harder certs.  It also provides you with work in the IT field so when you do achieve those certs you have experience to back them up and possibly have more experienced techs to mentor you.

    As for where to find these positions it really depends on where you live.  When I started my career I was in Chicago so it was easy to find work, when I moved to Lake Havasu, AZ positions in the field were scarce because there were no mid or large size businesses.  If you are in a larger area and after you get some basic skills, you can use various job sites, but also take a look at Craigslist if you have local listing.  There are many people looking for help that couldnt afford a more experienced tech, but would give you the ability to look at different configurations and grow your experience.  Dont expect to make a fortune up front, it will be a building experience but if you keep at it and are diligent in keeping up your skills you will have upward growth.

    Good luck to you!

    Dave
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:48 PM
    Answerer
  • Paper Thin Panda said:

    so i'm 23 years old, currently unemployed, and i want to get into the IT field. 

    i have a couple questions to start:

    1. what certifications should i get 
    2. how much do the certifications cost
    3. what kind of job can i expect to get with a MC, where can i expect to get a job, and how much can i expect to get paid.

    i know these are very broad questions, but any help getting me started on the right path would be very much appreciated.

    thanks.



    You need to spend some additional time with XP and Vista, really take the ahnds on approach to working with features that perhaps you have nto explored before.  One of the easiest places to get started in IT is to begin working on the desktop support desk at a company.

    There is one primary credential to look at right now in the Vista space and that is the MCITP:Enterprise Support Technician.  Or, if you still want to get certified on Windows XP, you can go after the MCDST.  In either case, these credentials focus on your knowledge of the key desktop features which are important to any given company.  Security features, common configuration options, technologies used to deply the OS, automated installations, etc.  These are features that as a home user you will not already have experience with in the operating system.

    So once you have a study text, start using some fo these features on a computer.  Give yourself practice with them to build up to being certified.

    Thereafter, realize that your certification is not going to be a silver bullet here.  Today's companies are looking for a combination of experience AND certification.  To bridge the experience gap, dont be afraid to go after short-term and contract work.  Yes, the job security and benefits usually suck but after you have a few contract positions under your belt, you then have the basis of experience to go further in the hiring process at a fir where your job may be more stable.
    - Wayne S. Anderson MCITP, MCSE, MCT http://blog.avanadeadvisor.com/blogs/waynea
    Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:50 PM
  • thanks for the informative replies ;).

    Michael D. Alligood said:

    I would do some research on what path in the I.T. field you would like to pursue and create some specific questions pertaining to that area.

    I haven't fully decided on which path I want to go down just yet. Is it neccesary that I do pick one right away? I'm thiking of getting some other certs or at least starting with one that can get me into the field.

    Dave Lawlor said:

    What has lead you to the decision to work in IT? Do you have any experience in supporting computers at all?

    I've always been interested in computers. I've built a bunch of desktops with my brother back in the day. I also went to UAT (University of Advancing Technology) here in Arizona for a couple semesters where I took some classes in basic programming, html, and networking before I eventually had to drop out due to personal stuff (long story ;)). So I have a fairly basic computer background.

    Wayne S. Anderson said:

    You need to spend some additional time with XP and Vista, really take the ahnds on approach to working with features that perhaps you have nto explored before. One of the easiest places to get started in IT is to begin working on the desktop support desk at a company.

    There is one primary credential to look at right now in the Vista space and that is the MCITP:Enterprise Support Technician. "

    I was actually thinking about this wayne. I'm not totally sure as to what path for IT I want to go down just yet, so I was thinking that I would start with a cert for vista (xp seems to be going away) and then get a job at a support desk to start. I would also like to do contract work on the side just like you said. I'm planning that in the meantime (while working and gaining experience) I will figure out which cert's to go for, and advance my technical knowledge as well as my career in the IT field. I really need someone with experience to back me up and let me know that I am taking the CORRECT initial steps to attain this goal. So you recommend going with exams 70-620 & 70-622, as a good starting point and try to find an enterprise support job to gain experience? What Dave was suggesting with compTIA A+ vendor-neutral certification seems interesting too. Do you guys have any thoughts on the pros and cons of starting with a more broad neutral cert like compTIA A+, or a more proprietary cert like ones from microsoft. I'm thinking maybe i should go for both, or is that a little to ambitous for someone just starting out. Again, just want to say thanks. the information and these recommendations you guys are giving me are helping me come to a better informed decision.

    Thanks
    Peter
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 3:13 AM
  • Unless you have some idea, however small, of what you want to achieve; I fear that you will spend tons of unecessary time and money on something that will not fulfill your needs. You mentioned three specific fields here: Networking, Programming and Support (desktop, server or both). All have very different job duties. I am not asking you to plan your whole career out now, just give us some ideas of what you are really passionate about in regards to I.T..

    Another piece of advice: Don't ever let certifications be your goal. Goals are meant to be reached, and in the I.T. business you should never stop learning and bettering your skills. Many people certify and they are done. "That's it. I passed. I know it all." Although they may have the knowledge, their experience is lacking because they are waiting for their unemployment checks to arrive.


    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 4:29 AM
  • Michael D. Alligood said:

    Unless you have some idea, however small, of what you want to achieve; I fear that you will spend tons of unecessary time and money on something that will not fulfill your needs. You mentioned three specific fields here: Networking, Programming and Support (desktop, server or both). All have very different job duties. I am not asking you to plan your whole career out now, just give us some ideas of what you are really passionate about in regards to I.T..

    I'm still researching at this point, but so far I'm leaning towards enterprise administration. 

    Michael D. Alligood said:

    Another piece of advice: Don't ever let certifications be your goal. Goals are meant to be reached, and in the I.T. business you should never stop learning and bettering your skills. Many people certify and they are done. "That's it. I passed. I know it all." Although they may have the knowledge, their experience is lacking because they are waiting for their unemployment checks to arrive.

    Very well said. I'll keep that in mind. ;)
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 12:21 AM
  • Research on! You have just displayed a lost art in the field: Research. Don't ever lose that. Never be spoon feed.

    Enterprise Administration, eh? Well, that is an idea! What I would do (if you already have not performed this already) is take a look at the certifications Microsoft offer. BUT, don't pay attention to the certifications themselves. Confused yet? What I want you to concentrate on is job duties and responsibilities for each of those certifications. See what each on is made of. Because, after all, its about what you will be doing, right?

    Keep researching and reading. Create specific questions about each one - or the ones that interest you. You decision is not a light one. Your career may depend on it! :)

    No pressure though! Let me know if I can answer anything else for you.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 12:41 AM
  • After reviewing this thread and researching CompTIA A+ I am thinking this will be the best way for me to start along with the dialer job I was thinking about. I also had a IT staffing service contact me and offer to start me at Adidas on a contract for $15/hr with my limited experience. Since it is a contract job I am a bit worried to accept but maybe this will be a good way for me to get my foot in the door.

    What do you all think about a contract position in IT, what are some pros/cons I can weight before making the choice? I currently work for a great employer and actually get paid a bit better than the IT job but I am in mortgage, which is really not helping my career goals, but I do have the dialer position which reports to the IT AVP.

    For CompTIA A+ is there a good website for me to get study material, or is this something I can research on my own?
    • Edited by Brandy Elias Thursday, July 3, 2008 2:51 AM Additional Question
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 2:43 AM
  • As far as contract positions, looking back most of the full time positions I ended up taking in my early career started out as contract jobs, though they did specify that the job was a contract to full time hire.  It is an easy way for bigger companies to get around their HR departments hiring nonsense and get a look at a potential employee without having to commit to the hiring process.  Now if it is just a contract position that they need bodies for (hardware/software deployments) you need to realize it could end quickly and without warning.  If it does you are out and looking for your next assignment.  I also enjoyed these positions early in my career because it gave me quite a bit of exposure to different technologies and environments which helps to this day.

    As far as A+ study material there are plenty of sites that should be able to help you. If you are using free online resources, just make sure to be mindful of the date that the information was published, because it could be out of date compared to what version the test is at. Just make sure you don't just study for the test alone when looking at the information.  As Michael said earlier, the cert alone should not be the goal, but the knowledge it reflects should be a stepping stone for what you want to learn next.

    Best of luck to you

    Dave
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:33 AM
    Answerer
  • I actually did a lot of contract jobs when I first started out. Some of the pros to this would be:

    1.) The contracts are normally project oriented with a goal or end result. This serves as an accomplishment for you - that you actually started and finished something.
    2.) You have the opportunity to explore different contracts and different ways of doing things. You increase your chances of running across technology that you may not normally come across. Thus increasing your exposure and experience with a wide range of technology.
    3.) Flexibility. Normally contractual jobs are performed during the evening or weekends - when users are off the network.

    Some cons include:

    1.) No steady income.
    2.) No steady contracts. There could be months in between contracts.

    All in all, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. It did for me. I tried to use every opportunity to expose my brain to learning my trade. I interned at community colleges, took contractual jobs, studied, talked to key individuals in my field, anything.

    CompTIA's A+ exams are a great starting point. To add additional value, you will want to pick up the skills that encompass the Network+ as well. From there, if you are still interested in Desktop Support, the MCDST and MCITP: Consumer Support for Vista and MCITP: Enterprise Support would be logically skills to learn.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:35 AM
  • I am not too sure if I am interested in desktop support, but I have to start somewhere, right? The contract that I am being offered is a 1 year contract, so that would be long enough for me to work on more certificates and finishing up my Bachelors in IT & Software Engineering. I know getting my degree with make me more marketable and working then on my masters will really formulate the management portion but I guess right now it's about finding the right material to get the certifications and looking into the contract job.

    Thank you both for the advice. :)

    • Edited by Brandy Elias Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:55 AM update
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:55 AM
  • Just remember: Proficiency first, certifications second.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Thursday, July 3, 2008 5:03 AM
  • But how do you become proficient at something that you are not sure you need to do. It's like asking a aspiring manager to manage without the job. I guess my concern is I do not know what will be required of me in my position so I do not know what to work on.
    Friday, July 4, 2008 12:14 AM
  • Let's reverse your question: How can you get certified in a technology without proficiency in that technology. My point being is don't concentrate on getting certified. Find the path you want to pursue, work and gain knowledge and experience, THEN look for the certification that best fits your technical proficiency.


    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Friday, July 4, 2008 12:34 AM
  • Well, yes, that is my plan, I figured using study guides for certifications will help build the proficiency.

    Friday, July 4, 2008 2:02 AM
  • That will give you knowledge. Hands-on with the technology will give you experience. Proficiency is the combination of knowing the theoretical or practical understandings of a subject, while at the same time possessing the ability to know when to bend and manipulate those practices to work in an impractical environment. So what's all that mean? Know how to perform the task correctly, but know what it takes to get it done. Knowledge is knowing how to build a house. Experience tells us not to build it on sand. Put the two together and you have an proficient builder!

    Good luck.


    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Friday, July 4, 2008 2:35 AM
  • I too am wishing to get into the IT industry and am seeking (any) advice on how best to proceed.

    Background - well other than basic programming 20 years ago, which was undertaken in our schooling system (which I admit I had a aptitude for), I have had little experience in the programming line which is where I believe I would like to progress in.  I have had some limited experience in web design which is rudimentary at best, but this is the starting point that I am at.

    I have started to investigate the training options that are open to me and find that there is a national training company who would offer me a route from CompTIA A+ to MCSD, following the Web applications side of things (with them looking to place me in appropriate employment at the same time).

    Now, I fully admit that my knowledge is severly limited, which is why I would like to obtain some worthwhile advice.

    Having looked on the internet, I see that the MCSD certification looks to be retired in 2009.  So one question (of many) is - do I proceed with the above course with the intention to later upgrade to MCPD??  it makes sense to me to learn on the more up to date version of .NET etc but cannot find how to begin learning unless I go it alone, which starts a whole load of other questions (where to get study materials, where to sit the exams and so forth).

    I freely admit that things look somewhat confused, and maybe I'm just looking for an easier way to begin, or maybe I need just to keep on researching, but it seems that I get more confused the more I look.

    If theres any advice that someone can offer, than I shall be very grateful for any advice that comes along.


     

    Friday, July 4, 2008 9:33 PM
  • First if one of the moderator could remove the "Proposed Answer" from Davidus' post, I would appreciate it. I meant to click reply instead.


    With that out of the way, let's proceed!

    Hopefully Wayne will see this because I think he can better assist you with your MCSD question. But one of the first questions I want to ask you is; Are you sure you programming is what you want to do in the IT field? Meaning is this the path you have decided to travel? I only ask this because I am looking out for your best interest and wallet!

    I am very familiar with what you referred to as "national training companies." Let me be the first on to tell you that CompTIA's A+ certification has nothing to do with, nor will it assist you in any way with programming. These companies are sales companies first and training companies second. A majority of Account Executives (the person "looking out for your best interests") will put together this complete learning package for you. This will probably include a majority (if not all) certifications they teach. Don't fall for this. If you truly want to be a programmer, the A+ certification will only take up your time, money and brain cells - all three of which I am sure you desire to keep! If they tell you that the A+ will provide you with a solid understand of how computers work, tell them that would be great if you wanted to learn how they worked or how to fix them when they break.
    Michael D. Alligood, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+ www.theitclassroom.com
    Saturday, July 5, 2008 12:28 AM
  • Hi Michael,

    I removed the 'Proposed Answer' from Davidus' post as requested.

    Thanks,
    Ben

    Ben Watson
    Director, Microsoft Learning

    Saturday, July 5, 2008 3:51 AM
  • Thanks Michael for the advice on the CompTIA's A+ certification.  I've had a more in-depth look at what that covers and, although it may be of some use as background knowledge for the way computers work, I think that could be safely ignored for the time being.

    And, thanks for the advice regard the national training companies.  Yes, the price they charge is extortionate, and this will mean that I will have to do more research as to what the alternatives are as regards training, and attending the exams and getting the right job.  I think its an easy way out (and costly).

    As to wheather  I'm sure that programming is for me?? To be 100% honest - no, I'm not sure.  I know that I had an aptitude for programming (well, I did many moons ago and am fully aware that the programming languages have advanced considerably).  And in recent years, at a stab at web design (as I suppose as many others have).  I've also seem to be the one individual (in whichever firm I worked for) who appeared to know most about the computers  and mainly the Microsoft's office package (and my knowledge isn't fantastically great).

    I did consider firstly the MCDST. Now, I am deaf (not completely mind, but enough to make me ask people to repeat themselves enough times, lol) and the prospect of being at the end of a phone most of the day doesn't exactly inspire me (and I admit that I may not fully appreciate what employment tasks are done by MCDST's).

    Therfore, I think I'm at a stage of deciding which route I need to choose (web design etc or programming), which is why I'm seeking assistance from someone in the know.  Ultimately I need to know what I each career path involves and if I'm best suited to it.

    So, if there's anyone who can help offer me some advice, then great.  



     
    Saturday, July 5, 2008 7:02 PM
  • so i'm 23 years old, currently unemployed, and i want to get into the IT field. 

    i have a couple questions to start:

    1. what certifications should i get 
    2. how much do the certifications cost
    3. what kind of job can i expect to get with a MC, where can i expect to get a job, and how much can i expect to get paid.

    i know these are very broad questions, but any help getting me started on the right path would be very much appreciated.

    thanks.
    I was 25 years old when I started in IT, I am from Haiti and I had no background in technology at all in fact I did not even know what a computer look like until I was 15 years old and I never really used one until I came to the US in 2007. I started in IT 2 years ago and I am now working as a contractor making between $30-40/hr. Dude you can do it and I am telling you to GO FOR IT,  it was not easy to get a job with no experience plus my language barrier but I tried really hard and now i am like Kobe bryant (everybody want me in their team). Try to get your COMPTIA A+ CERTIFICATION then try to get your first job with it then once your in the field you will know where to go next.
    Thursday, January 3, 2013 6:01 PM